Falling in love with a vampire bites—and sometimes loving a human bites back.
Dorian Villeneuve is an unlucky vampire from the slums of Devil’s Row. He makes ends meet for himself and his emotional support Chihuahua by working sleazy bars and nightclubs, doing what it takes to get by. Cash Leroy is a monster hunter from East Texas with a golden voice and an unrivaled devotion to Stevie Nicks. Hunting does not leave time for friends, let alone love.
When their paths cross during a bloody run-in with the vampire mob, Cash upends Dorian’s life—and takes Dorian under his wing to teach how to hunt monsters.
The unlikely pair become partners, and soon, best friends. However, their deepening bond grows complicated when Dorian falls in love with Cash. Their friendship is too important to throw away over an interspecies attraction, especially in a career that is already nasty, brutish, and short.
And things become even more complicated when Cash finds himself returning the vampire’s affections.
When an unusually deadly case lands in the hunters’ laps, their ill-fated affair takes a backseat. A pair of man-eating weredeer are on the loose taking victims’ hearts. With the pressure on to end the killing spree, Dorian and Cash must set aside their feelings and hunt down the blood-thirsty deer.
Can Dorian and Cash’s friendship survive this monstrous romance, or will they lose their hearts in the process?
In the last eight months since leaving the vampire slums of Devil’s Row, Dorian Villeneuve learned many things about the world of humans. He learned even more about the world of monster hunting. Today, he learned that mothmen could fly at speeds upwards of sixty miles-per-hour if given enough of a head start.
He also learned it was exceedingly difficult to aim a handgun at mothmen flying upwards of sixty miles-per-hour. This was especially difficult when hanging out of the window of the rickety red pickup truck currently racing down the empty highway by night’s cover.
“I can’t aim!” Dorian loudly complained over the wind. “We’re going too fast!”
“Well, we can’t exactly slow down,” answered Cash Leroy from behind the steering wheel. Dorian’s partner held the wheel tightly, standing on the gas pedal and pushing the old truck’s engine to keep pace. “Took us this long to figure out where he was headed.”
Dorian peered up through the windshield at the mothman above them. The winged shifter flew against the moon’s pale light, high above the tree line of the piney forest edging the highway. At such a height, the mothman was little more than a broad, black shadow on outstretched wings. Furry black hairs covered his whole body in a million points, each catching the moonlight but betraying nothing of the monster’s true shape underneath. Two glowing red eyes bobbled like embers in the dark to give away his line of sight.
Glancing down, the mothman met Dorian’s gaze. The vampire bared fangs.
Ahead of the mothman and his pursuers laid the city of Devereux and its 300,000 people and monsters. The mothman, like the other shapeshifters he was kin with, would disappear behind the safety of their human hides there. In the woods where he hunted human hitchhikers and backpackers, the mothman had the advantage of speed and strength. Even so, the shifter couldn’t keep going forever on tired wings and an empty belly.
All three of them knew the hunt had to end here, one way or another.
Dorian lined up his shot with mothman’s head and pulled the trigger twice, hoping to hit something vital. His bullets missed by a mile. He let out a hiss and dropped back into the passenger seat.
“This is useless.”
“Alright, we need to try something else. C’mere.” Cash reached behind his bucket seat for the sawed-off shotgun he kept in the back of the cab. “Take the wheel for me.”
Dorian blanched. “What? Absolutely not!”
“I’m a better shot, Dorian. I just need you to take the wheel.”
“But I don’t know how to drive!”
“It ain’t really driving, you just need to keep us on the road.”
Letting out a huff, Dorian clambered over into the driver’s seat. Cash slid out, climbing through the window to maneuver himself onto the roof of the truck. The wind cut at his face and threatened to pull him off where he gripped the metal. All six feet and two inches of him held on tight as Dorian grabbed the wheel.
The vampire took a deep breath and tried to calm his shaking hands. Everything felt so huge and cumbersome, utterly foreign to someone who had never driven before. The entire truck felt different in the driver’s seat; its throaty engine clattered louder, the chassis vibrating with every bump or crack in the asphalt. He stomped down on the gas pedal. The speedometer galloped ahead with a terrifying roar of the truck’s struggling engine.
“This is so stupid!” Dorian shouted through the window.
“You sound surprised!” Cash shouted back.
From the truck’s roof, the hunter made his way to the bed and carefully dropped down. Cash looked up at the mothman above and took up his shotgun to aim. Even at this speed, he was an excellent marksman, quickly finding the mothman’s core between the beats of the giant furred wings. The mothman met his eye just as Cash fired. He changed direction without warning, gliding toward the road to avoid the deer slug trained on his heart. With a curse, Cash reloaded a fresh shell. Neither he nor Dorian saw the mothman dive down until it was too late.
Guest post by Megan Cubed, Author of Leather and Love.
A lot of things have happened since Valentine’s Day 2018. That might be a bit of an understatement, given the state of things.
On February 16th, I’ll be releasing my paranormal romance and urban fantasy novel, Leather and Lace: Book One of the Southern Gothic Series. But the path to getting here had some twists along the way. ‘Leather and Lace’ first appeared as a short story in the pages of Twisted Romance from Image Comics. It was a project organized by comics writer, director, and novelist Alex de Campi, with the intended goal of telling off-beat romance stories.
Alex assembled a diverse group of comics artists and prose writers to create a genre-crashing romance anthology that spoke to all our strengths. She sent me a private message on Twitter in September 2017 and was kind enough to tell me (in a caring and supportive way, of course) that I was going to contribute a story.
When she approached me about the project, all I could think of was a monster-hunting romcom. It was an excuse to combine my love of pulpy monster-of-the-week procedurals with good old-fashioned monster romance. Thus, Dorian Villeneuve and Cash Leroy were born: a paranormal buddy hunter couple, consisting of a sarcastic goth vampire with an emotional support Chihuahua and a good-natured country boy who stanned for Stevie Nicks.
With Alex’s blessing, I wrote ‘Leather and Lace,’ my tongue-in-cheek spin on Supernatural through the lens of Dean Winchester and Castiel getting together and hunting a family of murderous weredeer.
(It isn’t find-replace Supernatural fanfiction, for the record. A few jokes were floated on Twitter, but any similarities to the show are purely the product of genre conceit and love of monster-hunting tropes.)
Twisted Romance #1 arrived in February 2018, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The series showcased some of comics’ most innovative and interesting creators. Alex collaborated on comics with artists Katie Skelly Trungles, Alejandra Gutierrez, and Carla Speed McNeil. The prose selection featured me and comics writer Vita Ayala, and there were several comics shorts by Meredith McClaren, Sarah Horrocks, Margaret Trauth, and Sarah Winifred Searle. It was later collected in a trade paperback, with a cool variant cover for Books Kinokuniya.
(As I understood it, we were pretty popular in Japan.)
Our little anthology went on to garner some critical acclaim and a fair bit of commercial success. It even earned a few award nominations, including an Eisner Award nod at San Diego ComicCon. In the end, I felt rather good about what I did for that project. I decided that would be the end of Dorian Villeneuve and Cash Leroy while I went on to work on other paranormal romance projects.
As you can see, that didn’t happen.
After the short story came out, I was surprised to find the characters and their story so well-received. Romance and non-romance readers alike told me how much they enjoyed it and that the characters resonated with them. I was enamored with the quirky little world I made and grateful that so many people had found such enjoyment in it. That so many people liked these characters and want to know more about their relationship, pasts, and future together.
It’s now January 2021 at the time of writing this. Since their first appearance, Dorian and Cash have become the characters I’m best known for and the characters I’ve come to love the most. I’ve written some thirty short stories about their romantic exploits, self-published three themed collections, and completed two novels in a planned series.
Leather and Lace: Book One of the Southern Gothic Series is the full-length adaptation of the story that started it all. It takes the basic premise of the short story—a vampire, a hunter, a pair of man-eaters, and a partnership-turned-romance—and builds it into a sprawling world of monsters and mayhem. The characters have changed considerably during adaptation, becoming deeper, more nuanced versions of themselves with fully developed backstories.
Dorian is still a sarcastic goth who feels uneasy about hunting monsters, but the anxieties he compensates for are rooted in a lifetime of misfortune on the streets of the vampire slum. Cash is still a good-natured boy from East Texas, but his quirks are grounded in complicated family history as the heir of a prominent hunting dynasty. They each fill a need for trust and friendship in each other’s lives and provide a foundation of earnest care that their romantic relationship will continue to build upon. The monsters they hunt are also far more complex than their short story counterparts and help develop a morally gray world where monsters and hunters operate in the margins of polite society.
The book is a monster-hunting romcom, a paranormal procedural adventure, a campy horror-fantasy romp, and a romance about two friends who shouldn’t have fallen in love but did. It’s also a labor of love, which wouldn’t exist without Alex and the small but vocal readership I’ve found believing in me and in these characters. From drafting a story for a friend to putting out a novel about two characters I deeply love, the road that brought me to this point has been long.
I can only hope that I do them justice.
Magen Cubed is an Eisner-nominated writer, essayist, and occasional critic, best known for her queer monster-hunting urban fantasy/paranormal romance series SOUTHERN GOTHIC. She has appeared in the critically acclaimed TWISTED ROMANCE comics anthology from Image Comics and has bylines on the award-winning Women Write About Comics. Magen lives in Florida with her girlfriend Melissa and a little dog named Cecil.a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
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